Reflecting on Two Transformative Years as an Undergraduate Library Fellow

By Timothy Kim, Undergraduate Library Research Fellow, 2023-2024

As my time as an Undergraduate Library Fellow (ULF) at the UC Berkeley library comes to a close, I look back with gratitude to the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years. This role has not only shaped my understanding of academic research, but I’ve also gained invaluable skills of empathy, teaching, and most importantly learning. 

As an inexperienced ULF, I had a lot of ideas about what solutions to try and what projects to take on but not a strong understanding of the role of an ULF. This spark of interest is what helped the undergraduate research fellows work on and develop the Bancroft Library User Experience project and Wayfinding project among many others, as we developed ways to improve how library services were utilized. Having the inexperience is what allowed us fellows to draw up creative ideas and try to find pain points and inefficiencies in how students and researchers used the library. 

Simultaneously, as the other research fellows and I gained experience, we also learned the ropes of teaching in front of classes of our fellow peers on how to conduct Research 101 basics. Through carefully observing the students taking the class, I learned where to anticipate potential problems people might have, as well as those who wouldn’t necessarily bring up their obstacles in the first place.

As I gained more experience through my second year, I eventually transitioned to conducting more one-on-one peer advising. Armed with a deeper understanding of how people learn, I approached teaching with a renewed perspective and confidence. This year was about action—applying theories and techniques I had learned in real-world scenarios and refining them through experience. Every visiting student came with unique challenges and learning styles. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability and empathy in educational settings. It was through these personal interactions that I rediscovered the joy of learning and the satisfaction of helping others achieve their academic goals.

The skills I’ve acquired extend far beyond the walls of Doe library. Learning to teach and communicate effectively are abilities that I anticipate will influence various aspects of my life, from my future academic pursuits to professional endeavors. The ability to facilitate learning and foster understanding is an invaluable tool I will always carry with me.

As I reflect on my time as a ULF, I cannot help but be extremely grateful to the program and its coordinators for its success in not only providing a service to the student body but also in educating me and the other fellows in mentorship and teaching. I believe through the program’s unique and diverse projects I’ve emerged as a more competent and confident individual.